At what point do we stop just ignoring what is wrong, and do something about it? I am all about keeping quiet and brushing things off and feeling sad for misguided souls. But at what point is it important to stop being silent and standing up for what I believe is right? This "sisters in silence" vigil outside temple square this Sunday is one of those things where I ask myself, do I just let this go? Do I allow some 100+ women I don't even know to speak for me? Do I allow them to say that I am "cowardly and oppressed" because I am not a part of their movement and they understand something I don't?
I have never in my life felt discriminated against or unequal in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have asked more questions and struggled with issues on a personal level. I have been angry with my ward leaders at times. I have prayed about things personally, asked family, friends and church leaders for help. I have come to terms with many things, and still struggle with others. But I believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. I want to be like Jesus Christ. I want to do what he would do and what he wants me to do. I question my decisions and ask myself if my points of view are based on pride. Sometimes they are. Sometimes I don't care. Sometimes I may not realize it. But what I do realize is that this Ordain Women movement is built completely on pride. It is all "what about me?"
I do feel bad for some of these women. I do. I feel like the church is run by people who are just trying to do their best. We really are all The Lord has to work with. Leaders make mistakes. People say things they shouldn't. We all stumble and fall and offend and get offended. I have gone to church leaders when I have been angry...at them! I have confided in others and asked for help. I have questioned doctrine in the middle of Gospel Doctrine class. I have asked questions and searched for answers my entire life. I have left in the middle of sacrament meeting because something made me so mad I couldn't stand to be there any longer.
I guess the difference between me and some of these other women, and I am only speculating, is that I have known and do know some truly wonderful men who are true followers of Christ. Starting with my sweet Father who taught me the gospel and sometimes worked 2 and 3 jobs to take care of his family, and still found time to fulfill every church responsibility he had. I am sure the last thing he wanted to do was to go to church and sit on the stand and go to meetings all day on Sunday. I am sure on his only day off he would have much rather have stayed in his pajamas and watched football. In fact, most of his free-time was spent serving others. Finding apartments for missionaries to live in, working at the temple, helping whoever needed it. Struggling through life as best he could, making mistakes, and looking to Christ to make things better and to help him find the strength and the answers he needed when he needed them.
My brother who has always been my best friend. Another guy who works hard to support his family, loves his wife and his children. All 5 of them. He carves out time in his crazy schedule of work, starting up a new business, and family responsibilities to be Bishop of his ward where he has been yelled at, called names, and has done whatever has been asked to do. He is sincerely so much better than I am in so many ways. He loves Jesus Christ and has told me often when I am angry with circumstances that I have had in the church that I, am the problem. He is probably the only one who could tell me that and get away with it. And so far, he has always been right.
I know he is right because he tells me I am the problem, and logically tells me why, and then asks me to think about it and pray about it. He also usually has an applicable parable or scripture off the top of his head that he can relate to me about what ever it is I am struggling with. It usually applies. And yes, he really is that wonderful. Of course he is not perfect. And I am not always wrong. Sometimes he talks me through issues that I have right. But he is always able to remind me that all of us are just doing the best we can. We are all the Lord has to work with.
As a Sister Missionary in Chile I saw first hand how plenty of 19 yr. old boys don't understand what it means to be a Priesthood Holder. I also saw amazing young men who didn't know how to make sense of it all try their best everyday to be a true follower of Christ. I saw them struggle with how to make right decisions. I saw them humbly try to teach others how to find happiness. I saw them serve, be kind to children, be loving and patient and giving to all they met. I asked them for help. Of course there were idiots and jerks. But I was drawn to the good hearted and devoted. They were my listeners, my supporters, my helpers, my protectors. My deepest respect for men in general comes from the examples of these sweet elders who were my friends.
My husband. I have never loved anyone more than I love Jeff. He has helped me in so many ways. He has stood by me, defended me, looked out for me, healed me, loved me in spite of all of my crazy. And I do have a lot of crazy. He has made me strong, brave, successful, happy, hopeful, complete. Life is hard and it is always a struggle. Things just keep coming. It never stops. We continue to stumble forward, not knowing the best way to do the whole parenting thing, marriage thing, life thing. I appreciate him so much for his commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He fulfills his responsibilities in the church not because that is how he wants to spend his free time, or to show off to all his friends how important he is, but because he loves Jesus Christ and will do whatever needs to be done. Whatever is asked of him. He is committed. Just like so many other men I know.
Like my Bishops. All of them. From one of my first Bishops back in Michigan who let his daughter come to my house when other members of my ward were to scared to let their kids come play on my side of town. (I grew up pretty poor just outside of Detroit) To a Bishop who validated a new baptist member who had just been baptized. The new guy started singing a gospel song and wanted us all to sing along in testimony meeting and I was so embarrassed for the guy. But then my amazing Bishop got up and validated the whole thing, and in that moment taught me that testimony meeting is in large part about tolerance and pride. Pride when one may think that what they have to say is more important than what someone else may have to say. We all need to be heard.
I have had sweet and extremely tolerant Bishops when I was a self-centered brat during my college years, when it was really all about me. And my Bishops in recent years who have listened to me complain about my problems, looked to for advice, and tolerated me with divine patience as I questioned them angrily and struggled to come to terms with things that are not right and are beyond my control. I have never felt anything but an outpouring of love and kindness and a willingness to serve and help. This is what Bishops do.
Youth leaders who have helped me with my boys more than they could ever fully understand. Amazing, unselfishness, committed men who care and show genuine concern. They have willingly intervened during some of my families difficult and uncertain times to be a true friend and guardian angel. I love them so much.
I understand the importance of Gender. As a mother of boys exclusively I know that I worry about them just as much as any mother of girls worries about her daughters. I want them to be happy, successful, and confident. I want them to know who they are and what they are capable of. I am defensive and protective of who they are. All of who they are. I want them to be respected and individual. I want them to honor women and eventually be good husbands and fathers and contributing members of the community who serve and help whoever they can. I want them to be followers of Jesus Christ and treat people they way he taught us to treat each other.
I do not pretend to know why men have been called to hold the priesthood. Or why it is entirely reserved for them. I do not pretend to speak for anyone but myself. I do not have technical reasons, or persuasive arguments. All I know is how I feel. And I feel at peace with the whole thing. I feel that through Faith, I too can see miracles. I can talk to my Heavenly Father and he hears me. I have all of the blessings of the Priesthood because of the Priesthood. I feel respected, loved, admired and equal. And I feel tired. Because really, I do too much as it is. The last thing I want to do is go and set up all the chairs on Sunday morning before the meetings start. But I appreciate all the boys who do.
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